A 72-hour cease-fire is underway in the Gaza Strip, bringing a reprieve to fighting between Israel and Hamas and the bloodshed on both sides. Palestinians in Cairo negotiated the truce after Egypt received "simultaneous consensus" from both sides. At 12:01 a.m. Monday, local time, fighting ceased, the New York Times reported.
The temporary truce sparked hope of ending the fighting indefinitely, with Egypt asking Hamas and Israel to "reach a comprehensive and permanent cease-fire,” Al-Jazeera reported. Turkish President-elect Tayyip Erdogan said the time would be used to transport the wounded from Gaza to Turkey for medical treatment.
A previous respite ended Friday and both sides picked up their weapons as if there never had been a lull. Israel reported rocket-fire from Gaza just minutes before the truce was to begin, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Azzam al-Ahmad, the leader of the Palestinian delegation to the talks, wants Israelis to “not waste time” during this cease-fire because Palestinians had made “absolutely no new demands” and just want Israelis to honor past agreements. “The 72-hour cease-fire should be used to achieve a complete agreement, to stabilize the cease-fire and to stop stalling and procrastinating,” he said. Israel said it would return to the negotiating table if the truce held overnight.
The Israeli people have criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also faces international criticism. “Internally, people are frustrated especially those who live in the south who had evacuated their homes along the border with Gaza for a month and then were told to return home during the cease-fire only to find out fighting has resumed," Al-Jazeera reporter Nisreen El-Shamayleh said. "He [Netanyahu] is also under pressure from the international community to return to Cairo for talks."
In Gaza, Hamas officials issued a directive to journalists to obtain press cards issued by the government if they want to work or face legal consequences, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Nearly 2,000 people in Gaza have been killed since fighting began a month ago, with 73 percent of them civilians. Israel’s fatalities are much lower: 64 soldiers and three civilians.
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